UN Arrives for Final Talks on KR Tribunal

A UN delegation arrived in Phnom Penh Wednesday to begin the final negotiations on the creation of the Khmer Rouge tribun­al, including its much-debated budget.

UN task force coordinator Mo­ham­med Said told reporters at Phnom Penh International Airport that the delegation “absolutely” ex­pects to finalize a budget during its four-day visit, which ends Sat­ur­day.

Said replaces former task force head Karsten Her­rel, who left the post in Octo­ber.

The UN team will present a final budget to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who will then issue an official call for donations from the in­ternational community.

UN and gov­ernment officials have estimated the tribunal’s total cost at $57 million.

The Cambodian government’s share of that cost is among the issues to be discussed during two days of talks between the teams. The government is bargaining to hold its contribution to $7 million, said Sean Visoth, secretary of the government’s tribunal task force.

“We want to close this black history, and I have finished our work already. We have only the budget problem [left],” he said.

In a report made public last month, Annan wrote that the Ex­tra­ordinary Chambers to prosecute surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime would not be set up until pledges were se­cured to cover the tribunal’s ex­pected three-year duration and enough money was in the bank to fund the first full year.

In his opening remarks to international donors at the Consultative Group meeting Monday, Prime Minister Hun Sen said the meeting was an inappropriate venue to discuss funding the tribunal.

Though the UN will shoulder most of the responsibility for solici­ting donations from the interna­tion­al community, “the Royal Gov­ern­ment will contribute its own share of the budget,” Hun Sen said, according to a transcript of the event. “It is our desires that judging the past should help Cam­bodia build a bright future.”

It is not known whether Hun Sen will meet with the task force, Sean Visoth said.

The UN’s appearance in Phnom Penh comes after months of can­cel­lations and delays on both the UN and Cambodian sides.

The gov­ernment canceled a UN visit scheduled for September and then announced that it would not re­issue the invitation until the UN contacted them. The UN initiated this week’s visit, Sean Visoth said.

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